Senator Ad 1

A Time To Sell

Marketers have never been more challenged to create disruption and deliver results, fast. Anecdotally Brexit is supposed to have had a major impact on the UK, although some research suggests only a small percentage of work has been stopped because of the referendum (Credos, 2018). However, it’s clear that brand owners are taking a different approach with many CMOs showing a more cautious attitude, which is affecting the promotional industry.

This quarter’s Bellwether report from the IPA states that there is an overall slowdown in ad spends despite resilience in 2017. Even industry sage Martin Sorrell has looked gloomy. Some marketers are taking a tough view as confidence dips; however, it is a mixed picture and we are still seeing a steady upturn in work through the IPM, pointing to brands committing to spend.

So, what does this mean for our part of the planet? The January Bellwether states that ‘sales promotion’ is down overall (-3%) but that many are reporting a 6.6% increase in spend. At the IPM, we tend to look at the overall we tend to look at the overall picture because it is clear that marketers continue to rely on promotional techniques to sell their products.

At the Cannes Lions in 2017, nearly every winner used a promotional technique to demonstrate to the consumer the clear benefits of the engaging with that brand. In the words of a certain Mr Ogilvy; we sell, or we die, and what we’re seeing in the industry now is a return to clear, straightforward activity that sells products.

At a recent dinner I attended, I was lucky enough to hear Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever and John Hegarty of BBH fame, discussing the long-revered ‘Risk and Responsibility’ talk featuring David Bernstein who sadly passed away recently. The overriding feeling from both is that we have lost confidence in our abilities and lost connection with the culture that has evolved around us. We have more ways to communicate than ever before but many of us who have been around for a while feel like we are missing a trick – technology should be a better friend to the marketer, yet we see more and more ‘wallpaper campaigns.

Procurement normally comes up at this point as the culprit killing creativity. It has its job to do, yet in recent discussions with our Diploma team, made up of senior industry figures, it’s clear that the capability of agencies to understand client needs is still lacking, leading to misplaced ideas vs the budget realities.

Measurement plays a critical part in this conversation – with the surge in experiential spend, the IPM has formed
an important long-term benchmarking study to understand the outcomes of tough to measure activities. We must prove that our channels work well. The results of the benchmarking study come out this summer (2018) and should be incredibly exciting. 

It’s clear that some aspects of marketing have made us monsters in the dark arts and no longer can we build relationships based on deceit. We must seize the opportunity to use the channels around to positively engage, create relationships that go beyond our normal sphere of vision. We need to consider Netflix and Instagram as much as our competitors on the Tesco shelf.

The best campaigns are clear, concise and get to the point – we have the methods and mechanics at our fingertips and we must approach this as a ‘one team, one vision’. After all, we’re all in this together.

Carey Trevill heads up the Institute of Promotional Marketing (IPM), which represents brands, agencies and service agencies across the UK.

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